HOGAN PROPOSES 3-STAGE REOPENING: Gov. Larry Hogan said on Friday that Maryland could be on the path to recovery by early next month and that some of the restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus could then begin to be lifted. Hogan reiterated that although Maryland has made “significant progress” on the four criteria his administration has set forth as preconditions for reopening, the state is not there yet, Bryan Renbaum writes for MarylandReporter.
- Hogan called the plan a “well-thought-out, gradual, safe and effective path forward,” supported by four pillars he has spoken about often in recent weeks: increases in testing, personal protective equipment, contact tracing and hospital surge capacity, writes Nathan Ruiz of the Sun, who also offers five takeaways about the plan.
- The governor suggested the first phase might begin as early as May, if hospitalizations from the virus decline, Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater of the Sun report.
- Under phase one, many small businesses would be allowed to open and “lower-risk” community activities would resume, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. Examples he listed included small retail shops, boating, golfing, fishing, tennis, outdoor religious activities, outdoor fitness and gym classes, and the resumption of outpatient surgeries and hospital procedures in counties with lower coronavirus infection rates.
- Stage two would raise the cap on social gatherings and allow more businesses and activities to resume, including childcare centers, indoor gyms, indoor religious worship and elective procedures at hospitals, Brandon Weigel reports for Baltimore Fishbowl.
- Stage three, writes Jessica Iannetta of the Baltimore Business Journal, would allow large events and social gatherings to resume and also put fewer restrictions on hospitals and nursing homes. This is a long-term stage though.
- The governor has been under pressure from some protesters and members of his own party who want to reopen businesses and even allow rural areas of the county that are not as severely affected to reopen more quickly, Bryan Sears writes in the Daily Record.
- Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vowed that he would proceed with caution as he looks to reopen the state’s economy, Hannah Natanson, Erin Cox and Justin Jouvenal of the Post report.
WA CO SOUGHT REGIONAL REOPENING: Some local officials were hoping for a regional approach to be offered in the Roadmap to Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday, Joyce Nowell of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports. “In the rural areas we just haven’t seen the devastation that was predicted,” said Del. William Wivell, R-Washington.
HOGAN ADDS BIZ CAPTAINS TO COVID-19 PANEL: Gov. Larry Hogan has added a slew of prominent business leaders to guide Maryland into its “recovery phase” after officials ease restrictions mandated during the coronavirus pandemic, Joanna Sullivan reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.
JOBLESS SITE HITS SNAG: Maryland’s launch of a one-stop online application for people requesting unemployment benefits hit a glitch Friday morning when the overwhelmed website quickly crashed, Regina Holmes of MarylandReporter reports. She talked to two people who previously applied to see how they made out.
- Users trying to access Maryland’s Beacon One-Stop site said they were unable to log in, instead getting error messages or pages that refused to load, Jean Marbella and McKenna Oxenden of the Sun report. “People waited until Friday,” one unemployed worker, Kenny Brannon, 49, said of the site that state officials had been touting. “And now they’re totally disappointed.”
NAVIGATING UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEM: With hundreds of thousands of Marylanders out of work because the coronavirus has shut down or slowed businesses, navigating the system to get unemployment benefits has become a full-time if unpaid job, Jean Marbella and Alison Knezevich of the Sun report.
STATE HOUSE GOP SEEKS INMATE RELEASE INFO: Members of the Maryland House Republican Caucus sent a letter to Gov. Hogan on Friday asking him to share data about the 2,000 inmates released from state custody because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the same day, other GOP lawmakers wrote to Health Secretary Robert R. Neall to provide information about the COVID-19 outbreak in nursing homes and other elder care facilities, Hannah Gaskill of Maryland Matters reports.
NEW CASES UP 815; 30 MORE DIE: Maryland officials reported Sunday that the state has confirmed 815 new cases of the coronavirus, 30 of them fatal — a decrease in both the number of new cases and deaths after the state reported its deadliest day of the pandemic so far, Phil Davis of the Sun reports.
- The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Montgomery County climbed 5% Sunday morning from Saturday, continuing its daily rise — but at a slower pace than at the beginning of the month, Andrew Schotz reports in Bethesda Beat.
- Suburban Hospital in Bethesda and Holy Cross Health’s two Montgomery County hospitals have acquired outside refrigeration units to use in case the hospital morgues exceed their capacity during the coronavirus pandemic, Dan Schere of Bethesda Beat reports.
CHILD-CARE PROVIDERS REMAIN UNPAID: Roughly half of Maryland’s child care providers — about 3,700 — reopened under strict sanitation and distancing requirements to serve about 27,000 children and to be paid by the state of Maryland. But four weeks in, the child care centers that have remained open have not been paid by the state and expenses are mounting, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports.
- Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that Christina Peusch, the executive director of the Maryland State Child Care Association, said some providers have had to shut down, while others are maxing out credit cards to meet rent and to pay workers.
OPINION: NOT THE RIGHT TIME FOR KIRWAN: In a column for the Carroll County Times, Christopher Tomlinson opines that the Democrats in Annapolis need to get on board and change their theme and not override a veto of the Blueprint for Education bill. For the foreseeable future, the focus of the General Assembly should be on damage control to right the ship of Maryland’s economy.
INMATES CHURN OUT MASKS, OTHER GEAR: To date, about 75 inmates have made more than 24,000 cloth masks, 18,000 plastic face shields, 4,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and 1,900 protective gowns — all items that have been in short supply and are needed to slow the spread of the pandemic, Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun.
SHORTAGES OF MEAT POSSIBLE: Consumers in Maryland and across the U.S. could see meat in short supply in the near future as the coronavirus causes widespread slowdowns, worker absences and closures at production plants, Lorraine Mirabella of the Sun reports.
TRAFFIC DOWN, SPEEDING UP: With unprecedented numbers of people working from home … traffic volumes have fallen dramatically over the last month — in Maryland and across the country. Many of the motorists who are on the road are turning the nation’s highways into race tracks, traveling well above posted speed limits, Bruce DePuyt writes in Maryland Matters.
SPECIAL ELECTION TUESDAY: Emily Opilo of the Sun writes that ballots for the special election, which decides who fills the remainder of the term of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, are due Tuesday and will be accepted by unconventional means — namely the U.S. Postal Service and in drop boxes.
- Maryland’s first election since the coronavirus pandemic will not only fill a vacant Baltimore-area congressional seat but test how well voters — and the state — navigate a balloting-by-mail system that had to be hurriedly devised because of the health crisis, Emily Opilo and Jeff Barker report in the Sun.
JUDGE ORDERS CLARITY IN HAGERSTOWN RACES: An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court decision has ordered that there be more clarity in the Maryland primary election ballot in Washington County so voters understand that the Hagerstown mayoral and Hagerstown City Council races are nonpartisan, Dave McMillion of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports.
MARYLAND CASH BOOSTS BIDEN: Robin Bravender of Maryland Matters reports that Maryland Democrats — including state politicians and former Obama White House aides — are shelling out cash in hopes of propelling Joe Biden into the White House this year. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee raked in more from Maryland donors in the first three months of this year than he did in the last three quarters of 2019 combined.
ALAN KEYES RE-EMERGES: Former U.S. candidate for Senate from Maryland Alan Keyes turns up in this article by Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: “Another advocate of bleach as a miracle cure who has been seeking to interest Trump in the treatment is Alan Keyes … a former ambassador and adviser to Ronald Reagan who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for the US Senate and on three occasions for the US presidency.”
FIVE YEARS AFTER FREDDIE GRAY’s DEATH, RIOTS: Five years ago, riots consumed the streets of Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. The city is still struggling to recover, Peter Hermann reports in the Post.
BA CO SETTLES PENSION SUIT: Baltimore County has agreed to pay nearly $5.4 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging employees were forced to overpay into the county’s pension system for years, ending years of litigation on the matter, Wilborn Nobles reports in the Sun.
CORNTEEN YOURSELF: Here’s a friendly and hilarious video reminder on staying safe during this time from local actor and comedian David DeBoy. Thanks to Ed Gunts for alerting us of this in Baltimore Fishbowl.